Aston Villa back on track with win over Norwich

Aston Villa snapped a five-game winless streak with a 2-0 victory over Norwich City at home on Saturday.

Steven Gerrard picked up his second win over predecessor Dean Smith, who returned to Villa Park for the first time since being fired in November.

Ollie Watkins scored in the 41st minute when he took a Danny Ings’ long ball in stride and beat Norwich keeper Tim Krul.

Ings added an insurance marker in the 93rd minute, slotting home an Emi Buendia chest pass in the Norwich box.

Positives in the Aston Villa attack

Villa out-chanced last-place Norwich and generated 1.94 expected goals (xG) to the guests’ 0.54.

Watkins was bright throughout, but really came alive when Gerrard was forced to swap injured Leon Bailey for Ings late in the first half. The England internationals paired together well and gave supporters a taste of what a more regular strike-pair could produce.

Lucas Digne was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI but led Villa with eight shot-creating actions, his highest total in a single game since the 2019 Premier League season.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – APRIL 30: Emiliano Buendia of Aston Villa thanks the fans after the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Norwich City at Villa Park on April 30, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Buendia started from he bench but came on for Philippe Coutinho late in the match. The Argentine had two key passes, a 95% passing accuracy, and an assist in just 14 minutes of action against his former club.

With both Buendia and Ings coming off of strong performances against Norwich, it will be interesting to see who Gerrard selects for Saturday’s tilt with Burnley.

Tim Iroegbunam solid in first start

Tim Iroegbunam “out-trained” other midfielders last week, earning his first-ever Villa start at the weekend.

Slotting in at the base of a three-man midfield, Iroegbunam was a breath of fresh air, providing cover in front of the back line while providing a reliable pass from deep positions.

He didn’t look out of place in his maiden start and adjusted well to the pace of the top-flight. His confidence in his own ability manifested in his willingness to commit to tackles.

Iroegbunam, should he continue to progress as a ball-winning CDM in Villa’s five remaining games this season, could save the club tens of millions of pounds in the summer.

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